Administrative assistants play a vital role in a wide variety of industries, keeping things running smoothly by supporting executives with a broad array of tasks. If this is your field, you’re organized, detail-minded and thorough — qualities that will serve you well in preparing an administrative assistant resume.
The range of industries in which you can work as an administrative assistant means you can find an environment you enjoy and gain industry-specific knowledge. The bar for entry is a high school diploma, so an administrative assistant job is a good choice, whether it’s a permanent career or a stepping stone to something greater. By understanding how to write , design and customize your resume for specific jobs, you can find the position that’s right for you.
In this guide, we’ll discuss all the considerations to preparing a winning administrative assistant resume, including how to:
- Beat Applicant Tracking Systems designed to weed out resumes
- Explain your experience in the best light
- Grab the attention of those with the power to hire
- Format your resume to make the most of limited resume space.
What does an administrative assistant do?
Administrative assistants used to be called secretaries, but today that term is usually considered a bit outdated. However, many of the responsibilities are the same, including handling correspondence, managing the boss’s schedule, booking travel, filing, bookkeeping and answering phones.
The median salary for secretaries and administrative assistants in 2020 was $40,990, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Unfortunately, the job outlook for this occupation is poor. According to the BLS, jobs for secretaries and administrative assistants are expected to decline 9% from 2019 through 2029. This is in part because new technology allows office staff to prepare their own documents without assistance, and in part because many administrative assistants now support more than one executive.
The scarcity of jobs in this field in the decade ahead makes it all the more imperative that you prepare a standout resume to compete for a shrinking number of jobs.
How to write an administrative assistant resume
Applicant Tracking Systems
What are Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and why are they so important? These are algorithm-based systems that sometimes reject resumes before they ever get into the hands of a hiring manager. ATS software hunts for keywords related to skills that employers prioritize in future employees. Since employers receive an average of 250 resumes for each job opening (according to Glassdoor), they often do not have the time to read each one. Instead, they rely on ATS software to do the resume sorting for them. Your first job is to target the keywords in job descriptions and use them in your administrative assistant resume. To do that, you should analyze each job description and highlight any skills or qualities that the employer requires. Then, use those exact words in your own administrative assistant resume.
Alongside these general skills, you may need to have knowledge of the specific industry in which you work. According to the BLS, the top 5 environments for administrative assistants are:
- Healthcare and social services agencies
- Educational services of all types
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Religious, grant-making or civic organizations.
Each of these environments has a set of terminology and rules under which it functions. You may already work in one of these fields, but even if you don’t have specific knowledge, you can study up before you head into an interview if your resume is well targeted. Remember these skills and keywords because ATS programs are searching for them. Use industry-specific language to customize your resume when you can, using words that employers have written into their job descriptions.
Summary resume example: get noticed
Your resume summary, also known as a profile, is especially important because you need to show off your personality. Here is where you make yourself sound great. Don’t be shy. This resume guide will walk you through the steps to get it done. Why a summary? Because you don’t have much time to impress and you want to distinguish your resume from the start.
A resume summary should highlight your soft skills while injecting a bit of professional personality. The rest of your resume will be focused on your experience, education and skills, with little room for creativity, but here you have a chance to make yourself known and get human resources to take a longer look at your resume.
Since you may be the first person with whom visitors to your office interact, it is in your best interest to feature your personality on your administrative assistant resume. Are you cheerful, calm, eager to help, a problem-solver? Highlight those qualities in your resume summary. Include your past professional achievements in this section as well.
Three out of four senior managers said the responsibilities of their office support workers has increased in the past five years, according to an OfficeTeam survey.
Whether you are just entering the workforce or are a seasoned professional, administrative assistant positions are a great launching pad for learning new skills and advancing. The OfficeTeam survey also found that 64% of bosses believe the path to career advancement for administrative assistants is better than it was five years ago.
Employers and recruiters want to know how you will enhance the office environment with your skills, knowledge of the field, and personality, so show them in your administrative assistant resume summary.
Proficient Administrative Assistant with over 7 years of office experience, specializing in administrative work, problem solving, planning, and optimal assistance. Known for increasing productivity and relieving workload of managerial staff. Proven efficiency with an ability to quickly learn and navigate any computer software program, or office filing system.
Employment history resume example: show what you know
This section is more challenging if you are starting or changing your career as an administrative assistant, but no matter your job history, you can craft a skill-focused experience section that shows off your value. Your first step here is to think about each job you have had, whether it be full time or an after-school position. Instead of writing a job description, think in terms of accomplishments and skills.
Analyze the description of the job you want. Describe career successes that illustrate the skills the employer is looking for. Think about how you used those skills to the organization’s advantage. For example: How did you use those skills to streamline office processes? On your administrative assistant resume, link as many of those skills to your previous years of experience. Check out our administrative assistant resume example block below to see more samples of how to do this.
If job descriptions seem too vague or too wordy, here’s a way you can cut through the mess. Try using a word cloud program such as Wordle or WordArt. Paste the job description into it. The more often a word is used, the more important it is to the employer. Follow the pattern to implant keywords into your resume.
Here are some goals of a well-written work history section :
- Use action verbs
to describe responsibilities and achievements
- For example: performed instead of did; reconciled data instead of found errors
- Get specific by employing data and statistics to make your case
- For example: If you helped save money by eliminating paper waste, give specific details about how much you saved and how
- Highlight problem-solving and how your solutions got results
- Illustrate your expertise
In many of the jobs you have done in the past, you may have accomplished goals that will translate to an administrative assistant’s role. Don’t be afraid to list jobs outside your field, as long as you point out the way that experience will make you an asset in your new job.
If you have experience as an administrative assistant already, you have a leg up. Make sure you play up the value you brought to your previous and current places of work. Check out our adaptable samples for an administrative assistant resume below.
Administrative Support Assistant at Space Corporation, Dallas
2010 - Present
- Served as a direct assistant to Production Supervisor, supporting all aspects of production and office management.
- Trusted to analyze and interpret data, and handle all shipments, deliveries, and material orders.
- Known as the “go-to person” for all departments including Quality Control, Accounting, and Management.
- Worked to alleviate executive overload by handling all customer interactions for company including walk-ins, email, phone, and fax interactions.
- Coordinated and scheduled all company meetings, appointments, interviews, and inspections.
- Problem solved for each department to maintain timely completion of parts and meet strict deadlines.
- Worked to ensure quality service and addressed and resolved all customer issues.
Administrative Assistant at A&C Machine, Austin
2007 - 2010
- Reported to Operations Manager and assisted shop and office personnel.
- Performed a range of administrative duties from maintaining production schedules to purchasing supplies and hiring vendors.
- Implemented problem solving skills to work through employee, customer, and managerial staff issues and challenges.
- Directed workflow, acting as intermediary between all departments by arranging conference calls, scheduling meetings, composing correspondence, and managing calendars.
- Supported an efficient production system in a fast paced environment by accurately processing all new orders, and delegating tasks as each order required.
Office Assistant at Gary Manufacturing, Austin
2005 - 2007
- Served as an assistant to all administrative personnel and acted as a first point of contact for visitors and customers.
- Managed telephone and email communication systems and maintained office supplies ordering office supplies with accuracy.
- Decreased supply costs by properly managing inventory, obtaining quotes, and purchasing appropriately priced products.
- Recognized for assisting customer inquiries immediately.
Skills section resume example: highlight your abilities
An administrative assistant’s responsibilities can vary widely depending on the environment, but you want to impress employers by focusing your resume on the qualities employers really want. We’ve already mentioned word clouds. They are very valuable when trying to decide which skills to list. They also give you a leg up in passing the gatekeeper, the ATS. Your skills section should be specific to the job you seek.
Consider moving this section up, especially if your experience section is thin. More than 40% of recruiters like to see the skill set at the top of a resume, according to Careerbuilder. Try not to repeat skills you have already mentioned in your experience section—you don't have a lot of space, so use it to your advantage by adding new information.
One great feature of a career as an administrative assistant is that your skills in one area can translate into a job in another. What do administrative assistants do? That can vary from job to job, but here are some responsibilities:
- Entering and maintaining data and files using spreadsheets or paper copies
- Preparing and editing documents including memos, letters and reports
- Answering phones and taking messages
- Scheduling appointments, meetings, and events on an electronic calendar
- Sorting and routing mail, faxes and packages
- Making travel arrangements
Some skills and experience are common for most jobs as an administrative assistant. First, let’s look at some examples of those:
- Administrative support
- Inventory Control
- Event Planning
- Editing and Proofreading
Common hard skills
Hard skills are quantifiable skills necessary to do your job. They are usually things you can learn by taking a class, such as bookkeeping, editing or word processing. Here are some sample hard skills for your administrative assistant resume:
- Software expertise: Administrative assistants perform many duties using word processing, calendaring, spreadsheets, and perhaps even presentation software. Expertise in Microsoft Office products and Google Drive may be a must.
- Social media knowledge: In today’s world, many companies use social media for marketing and communication. Being savvy in this area can be a big plus.
- Editing, spelling, and grammar: Yes, you can and should use spellcheck and grammar check, but they are not perfect, so basic writing skills are necessary.
- Data entry: This overlaps with software expertise, but it also requires that you understand the data well enough to know where to enter it and whether it makes sense. You must be able to flag faulty data or recognize when an input error has been made.
More than 90% of companies use social media for marketing purposes, according to Statista.
Common soft skills
Soft skills are often referred to as “people skills.” Here are some sample soft skills for administrative assistants:
- Communication: You may be the face of the office to clients. You must be professional and efficient while maintaining a cordial attitude, but that is just the beginning. You will be the point person for the office staff as well. You must handle communication among workers with different jobs and needs in a timely and effective manner.
- Time management: It’s your job to keep things running smoothly and efficiently.
- Organization: This ties into time management. The more organized you are, the less time will be wasted. Juggling many details is a key part of an administrative assistant’s work.
- Planning: You may be responsible for scheduling meetings. It may sound like a cinch, but it requires coordinating attendees’ availability, finding a space for the meeting, making sure presentations are ready, and sometimes arranging for food service.
- Be specific; name computer programs you know
- List skills mentioned in the job description
- Add details for any skills that are not self-explanatory.
- Use generic terms such as word processing software
- List skills unrelated to the job you seek
- Abbreviate or use acronyms
- Waste space listing irrelevant skills
Some 70% of resumes are never seen by a person. Quality keywords count! This is a keyword-intensive section, so be mindful to make it fit the job position.
Education resume example: more than a degree list
The education resume section bears more weight for career starters, but no matter where you are, you can use it to your advantage. A high school diploma is your entry point into this career, but you may have taken classes that boost your candidacy above others.
Consider taking a class to increase your skills. Community colleges offer many career classes and certificates that can enhance your resume.
Here are some examples of information that can be added to this resume section:
- High school career classes related to your target industry
- Computer classes
- Training classes and seminars from previous jobs
- Awards, honors, scholarships or certificates you have earned
Finally, did you graduate with a stellar grade point average? Consider adding it. It shows your determination, organization and ability to rise to the top.
Associate of Business Administration, Acton School of Business, Austin
2008 - 2010
High School Diploma, Edward Johnson High School, Austin
September 2004 - May 2008
Choosing the correct CV format and resume layout
If you’ve followed all the advice here, making sure your resume conveys the right skills and experience for an administrative assistant position, you’re almost done. But there's one more important step: choosing a resume format. The right CV format and resume template help you make a great first impression and offer a sample of your communication skills.
Jumbled formatting, spacing, or clashing colors are all examples of reasons recruiters will reject your administrative assistant resume. For administrative assistants, clear communication is one of the most important skills. Unprofessional formatting leaves employers with a poor example of your ability and the impression that you’re not cut out for the job. Try to choose a resume format or template that mimics the professional tone of the potential employer.
Resume.io’s templates cover a range of fields. Check out our professional examples for formal industries, our basic options when simplicity is key, and our creative samples or modern templates for more forward-thinking positions.
There are several advantages of using a resume template. For example, Resume.io's templates are filled with pre-written sample sentences specifically for administrative assistants. With our resume builder tool , you'll be able to easily switch between different templates, depending on the type of company. Whatever template you use, keep it clean. You want recruiters to easily scan your resume, see your accomplishments and imagine you as their next administrative assistant.
No matter how good spellcheck is, it won’t catch everything. Carefully proofread your administrative assistant resume, or have a friend or colleague do it. Some of the key skills of an administrative assistant are basic English spelling and grammar. Make sure you show yours off.
With Resume.io’s collection of templates, you don’t have to be a designer or a formatting expert to have a great-looking resume. Choose from among the many resume template samples. Think about your strengths and choose a CV format that best highlights them. Then use the builder to customize your resume template.
- Administrative assistant jobs vary greatly depending on the environment and field.
- Your resume summary gives employers their first impression of who you are and what you bring to the table.
- Use the experience section to highlight your accomplishments instead of describing your jobs.
- Make your education work for you. In addition to listing your schools and degrees earned, consider breaking out relevant classes and achievements.
- Analyze each job description and list skills accordingly. Highlight industry-specific knowledge on your resume.
- Keep a focus on getting your resume past the ATS.
- Use a resume template to design a visually appealing, uncluttered, and easy-to-read resume format.